By Mari-Alice JasperJanuary 22, 2018
After Fort Campbell received about 6.5 inches of snow during two back-to-back winter storms, the installation remained open for limited operations Jan. 11-Tuesday with only mission essential personnel reporting to work.
Master Sergeant Corey Worster, noncommissioned officer in charge for Detachment 4, 18th Weather Squadron, said the first storm began in the late hours of Jan. 11.
Worster and Maj. Todd Blum, commander of Detachment 4, 18th Weather Squadron, worked with the Fort Campbell Weather Station team, who work 24-hours-a-day. The team is comprised of six Airmen who work shift rotations. Their mission is to monitor weather conditions, write and update aviation and operational forecasts and issue the post's weather warnings.
About three-quarters of an inch of rain accumulated during the night and by Friday morning the precipitation had turned to freezing rain and sleet with one-half inch of ice accumulation. During the winter storms, temperatures dropped drastically, with lows in the single digits. From Friday to Saturday morning, the area received about 2.5 inches of snow.
By Monday morning, the second winter storm was in full swing. The precipitation was completely snow, Worster said. About 4 more inches of snow blanketed on top of the remaining ice and snow making driving conditions hazardous.
On Tuesday, winds gusted at nearly 23 miles per hour. The high temperature for the day was 15 degrees.
Air Force Detachment 4, 18th Weather Squadron, first alerted the garrison about the impending winter weather Jan. 9 via the Emergency Operations Center, Worster said. "We then sent out updates twice daily until 36 hours prior to freezing rain arrival, when updates transitioned to every six hours," he said. "After Saturday morning, the updates reverted to twice daily until 24 hours out from the second storm, when again, updated forecasts were sent every six hours."
Worster and Blum worked together to write the daily forecasts. Blum then briefed Col. Joseph P. Kuchan, Fort Campbell garrison commander, and the Emergency Operations Center team at daily meetings.
"We're proud of Detachment 4's contributions to the garrison team by providing timely and accurate inputs to garrison leaders that facilitate decisions that impact the post and community," Worster said.
Before the first snowflake touched the ground, Directorate of Public Works staff were already preparing to tackle the incoming winter weather. Mike Hollis, Fort Campbell's Roads and Grounds chief, said the team of 15 personnel began preparing their equipment Jan. 11 by loading them with salt.
"Our trucks, plows and graders were all inspected and mechanical repairs were accomplished by our [Logistics Readiness Center] partners," said Patrick Appelman, DPW director.
The crew came on board at midnight Friday, waited for the rain to slow down and began salting at 2:30 a.m. Friday, ahead of the snow event, Hollis said.
"Since off post road conditions are just as dangerous [as on post], our mechanics bedded down within DPW facilities after a 10-12 hour shift to allow rest and [to] minimize safety concerns for our employees and those who call Fort Campbell home," Appelman said. "We had no lost time accidents, which is a testament to the professionalism and expertise of our operators and support staff."
The small crew plowed about 146 miles of pavement within the cantonment area, not including parking lots, and have used more than 1,200 tons of salt on the roads.
The team struggled with timing when it came to laying the salt ahead of the snow and ice, Hollis said. Keeping 101st Airborne Division Road through Gate 10 passable was probably the most challenging task because of the large hill, he said.
Hollis said he is proud of his team and their hard work.
"Operators work long hours and still manage to keep a good sense of humor and maintain their professionalism," he said. "[They are] a great group."
"We are very proud of [Hollis] and our roads and grounds team for their efficient removal of ice and snow on our primary and secondary roadways," Appelman said. "In addition to their normal hours of operation, they have recorded in excess of 600 man-hours of overtime to ensure our roads were cleared."